Giant Red Wagon!

It's a giant red wagon in Centennial Park in Spokane, Washington! This is me sliding down the "handle." Wooooooooo!
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My toes came out to play...

The toenails are bright red and excited about emerging from the lint-laden socks that have held them in sweaty captivity since the leaves began to turn. Now if only someone could figure out how to get my toenails to GROW OUT in color! Yes, I know this is not that interesting a revelation, but I do love when the bartlett pear trees bloom, the breeze is still cool, and the birds begin to belt out their spring songs. Yeah!! Spring!!!

Oops. More pictures...

Oops! I realized that my pictures from before did not post properly. Here are a few from the game we won against Notre Dame. We played again on Sunday against the Oregon Ducks...and did not fare so well. I have a few pictures that I'll put up this week of some other nice spots in and around Spokane. (or Spokandyland as I took to calling it after finding a shirt with the word on it!)
So....What a cool experience and blessing to get to go all the way to Washington state and hang with some amazing people...and see Winthrop go further than it ever had.

Go Eagles!

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We just won!!

Woo hoo!!! We just won!!!
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Shane, a Winthrop student, came all the way to Spokane by himself to see the game. He pretty much rocked. :)
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Spirit Fingers for Winthrop!

This was just before the Notre Dame game. I had on red pants and red shoes even. It was a blast to see the game live...
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A Gator, a Hydrant, and an Old Navy Truck

Near Post Falls, Idaho...the same yard full of stuff...there was so much stuff to see!
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More Lake Coeur d'Alene

The sign on the lifeguard stand told us to swim at our own risk...no lifeguard on duty.
Good thing I was dissuaded by the 30-degree temperatures. I can imagine this place is LOVELY in the summer!
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Idaho rocks.

At Lake Coeur d'Alene in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. I'm very happy about being in Idaho, apparently.
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Idaho Wildlife

The Wildlife in Idaho was breath-taking. I mean, look how close I got to this buffalo!
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A Close-up of the Sign....fancy!

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Idaho Industrial Park

The Spirit Lake, Idaho Industrial Park. I really think this pared down idea of the industrial park is going to take off...
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More Mount Spokane

More Mount Spokane
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Well, this was a great view...little point-n-clicks never do views justice, do they? Especially lovely are the power lines running through the top of the shot...Oh well. There's a little lake tucked into the middle of the pic if you can see it! From Mount Spokane...
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Mount Spokane

Top of Mount Spokane...about 5800 feet...lots of snow around!
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Idaho Fun

Another shot in the yard/junk store/sculpture garden...
Notice the snow-covered mountain in the background!
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Full of Bull in Idaho...

Random yard full of stuff for sale...but no one around...so I took pictures. This bull was made of metal, and I have no idea how it was upright on its front two feet!
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March Madness

OK, so I got a call Monday at lunch and was invited to go along with the Winthrop Eagles to Spokane, Washington, for the NCAA tournament first round...and if we win...we'll stay for second round. So I write this from Washington state sometime on Wednesday! How crazy is this!
So, cheer for the little Winthrop Eagles as we take on Notre Dame at 2:30 Friday. GO EAGLES!!!! Beat the Fighting Irish (the day before St. Patty's). I'm here at least through Saturday, possibly Monday if we win.
This is all so very cool. I had noooo idea I'd be included in this fun. Tomorrow we go to Mount Spokane and around the city. I'll post pictures. Apparently I'm just yards away from the world's largest red wagon...that excites me. :)
Here are some notes I wrote on the way here whilst bored and feeling literary:

Hanging Hopes on Tall Shoulders

It's restless on the airplane as over a hundred of us have been up since before the sunrise, excited…expectant…and now weary from traveling across the country to watch our favorite basketball players live up to monumental media hype. The tall guys in black warm-up suits show no signs of nervousness, taking this trip to Spokane, WA, in stride as though trips to the NCAA tournament happen every day.
Flight delays, no food—save pretzels in various forms—and no in-flight entertainment. But I shall not complain. Outside my window I catch glimpses of snow-covered Rocky-Mountain-tops and vast valleys. My little Winthrop in the Big Dance again. And somehow, I've been thrust into a mini-drama of epic proportions, picked out of a veritable hat to accompany the team and a small group of fans. We're garbed up in various hats, shirts, stickers—anything to prove we're good fans of the Cinderella Eagles of 2007. I hope our little drama ends with high fives and hugs and a few more days in Themiddleofnowhere, Washington. Well, maybe that's unfair. I've never been to Spokane, but I wouldn't mind to stay until Sunday and watch Winthrop take on yet another opponent. I'm just a measly staff member and an alumnus, but I feel like I'm living in an "against all odds" Disney sports flick. March Madness to be sure.


Amazing Grace...how sweet the movie

I saw a preview of AMAZING GRACE a few months back and thought it looked really good...we saw it tonight. The story itself really overtakes the movie itself if that makes any sense. Certainly there were just a handful of parts that seemed heavy-handed on sentimentalism...but by the end, you just didn't care. Bring out the marching bands, the banners, whatever it took! It's a movie about one man's passion for humanity and equality. It's about the fight to abolish slavery in England, but also about having determination to fight a system utterly flawed. Well done overall, well acted and executed. It's an even slow pace, but it lent itself well to the theme of perserverance. It's "Amistad" lite. If you haven't seen "Amistad," then shame on you. And then I wonder, "what will be the 'slavery' of our time?" What will future generations look back upon and wonder how WE let it happen? AIDS pandemic in Africa, homelessness, human trafficking. Yes, yes, and yes most likely. What if there are no future generations because we wrecked the planet? Just thoughts.
And John Mayer is an idiot, because while he writes songs like "waiting on the world to change," people like Bono are using their God-given platform of fame to actually CHANGE the world. Get off your high (and I don't mean high horse), John Mayer, and do something. (aside: I like his music, especially "Continuum," but that song drives me up a wall!)

And now that I'm being self-righteous, I shall turn the pointing finger...what am I doing to change the world? I'm living a smaller life than the one I imagined for myself. I don't know yet if that's good or bad. My heart is to help, but I feel trapped by the 9 to 5-ness of the work week. And so I try to live with integrity, doing the small things I can...and praying for opportunities to contribute in some meaningful way to those who are hopeless and helpless. What is God stirring in my heart?

Go see "Amazing Grace" if for no other reason than to support a film that does not glorify dysfunction, alcoholism, death/destruction, violence, and moral decay. At the least it is educational, as it is based on a true story. At the most, it will help you ask yourself..."what is my God-given passion, and how can I see it through?"


A Blog from February 3...Sin, Passion, Politics, and Jesus

Oh the things that have been swirling in my head in the past few weeks. Sometimes it just helps to "put them down on paper," so to speak, in order to make some sense of them.
So, this one is more for me...if you're interested, feel free to read...but I just need to clear a bit of head room (that made me think of Max Headroom for those of us in our 30's...you'll know what I mean) to make space for some new and exciting thoughts.
A bit of a spiritual journey...
Earlier this week I emailed an old high school friend with a very quick, bullet-point synopsis of my life since HS graduation...one of the things I included was a relatively recent church change and the radical re-formation of my faith that I have undergone in the last few years. I've been a Christian since I was six, and have been blessed to never have strayed from the faith--not that I haven't questioned nearly everything about it at some point--but I've always sensed God's presence in my life and have had a deep knowledge that He loved me and that I was loved by Him. It's something that really can't be explained in words. (even though I just tried! ha)
So, I've been through many phases of my Christian faith--the teenage radical bring-your-Bible-to-school and preach to people phase, the college sorting-out of exactly what I believe vs. what I've been told to believe phase, the judgmental everyone-is-sinning-and-I'm-not phase (which in and of itself is sin enough--yes I see that now), and now the a compassionate, holistic phase.
A horrible nutshell of my faith progression, as things like this are never really nutshellable, but whatever...gives you (if you're still reading) and me an idea of my journey.
My friend replied to my email (I paraphrase somewhat) "Glad to see you are experiencing a more laid back Christianity..." What an interesting perspective. Because I feel more alive to my faith now than ever before, but the way I want to act upon it and make it known are radically different.
More history (I know, soooo exciting!)...I was a member of the STATE board of the Teenage Republicans and a devout conservative in high school. My leanings will certainly always be in that direction, but I am more and more convinced that Christianity supercedes government. The ideals of my faith are so much BIGGER than government. My government is not a faith-based organization, and thus, I cannot reasonably expect it to "act" in Christian ways. I cannot expect "Christian" legislation or moral behavior from a system that does not ascribe to Christianity. Politicians are almost all swayed more by pols and voting blocks than their own personal sense of faith or morality. It's just the way the system is set up. So, while I believe in the preservation of "family values," I believe that it is MY responsibility to live those out. I should vote because it is my duty to learn about and support candidates who might reflect some of the things I stand for...but I will NEVER picket or lobby or beg some government official to legislate morality. Abortion is a travesty, and I am passionately pro-life...but I would be more effective counseling pregnant girls on their options than I would ever be throwing rocks at doctors or screaming at anyone.
(Ooooh, I'm starting to rant) Additionally, while I'm on the topic...Republicans and Democrats...who's to say which one is more "moral" or "Christian?" Some might say, "Well Republicans are pro-life and pro-family..." Well, we had a Republican President and a Republican-controlled Congress for several years...was there anything overturned???? And since when is the Democratic idea of feeding/clothing poor people and improving education LESS Christian than preventing abortion? Jesus talked a lot about helping the poor. And finally, what about the CHURCH? If we did more feeding and clothing and less lobbying, picketing, and hating...wouldn't we impact the world more? Governments rise and fall, but an act done in the name and compassion of Jesus will stand.
Next...I was for years involved in a situation that focused almost entirely on sin--not sinning, who was sinning, what should happen to people who were sinning, and the choir members who could see everyone telling us all who was sitting out there and sinning...SIN SIN SIN. Certainly it is something that should be dealt with in the life of every Believer/Christian. But to continually focus on it is completely unhealthy...and if you already tend toward the idealistic and/or judgmental (as I do--see! confession)...you can get caught in a spiral of being everyone else's sin watch-dog. And since when did the Bible ever say that we are to convict people about their sins? That is the job of God (the Holy Spirit specifically). And when did the Bible ever say that we are to condemn people for their sins? That is Satan's forte. Our job is to help other Christians in their walk, by lovingly addressing and bringing their sin to them after much prayer...and then restore them to the faith. But our job with non-believers is simply to LOVE them...wherever they are...and by whatever means they are there. Drug addicts, prostitutes, AIDS victims, homeless, wife-beaters, and the list goes on and on. When did the church quit loving people and start beating them up for doing what unbelievers do? The Bible clearly says "They will know we are Christians by our LOVE." Love was the sole identifying factor. It seems today that most people know we are Christians by the way we condemn everything that's not like us, or by our screaming/demanding, or by our holier-than-thou attitudes.
So, more than ever, I am not laid back about my faith...but instead of looking to Republicans, Democrats, or everyone else to get up and do something...I am praying about and doing the things that Jesus commanded. The New Testament church was involved in community and fellowship with other believers, loving their extended community through service with no strings attached, breaking bread with one another (yes!), worship, and prayer. People who seem the most lost or the most unlike me can provide huge opportunities for love.
And randomly, I will add...I was very challenged last week to think about our planet. Our Pastor delivered one of the most beautiful sermons I've ever heard on the way that God created the earth and how He intended it to run. Most startling in the list was that God gave the earth to man to "serve and protect" it. He created it, and gave it to US to protect it. So, more than anyone...Christians have a DUTY to step up and be the biggest tree-huggers out there. I'm not sure what all that will mean for me just yet...I recycle, I conserve energy...but I really want to discover what else I can do. I want to take my duty seriously. (Hmmm...most people associate environmentalists with Democrats, don't they? See how the lines begin blurring when you take a whole approach to faith????)
In closing (I know, it's been long...and if you're still with me...BRAVO!)...my faith is personal, but not private. I'm called to live it out with everyone around me in different ways, responding to each person I meet appropriately--rejoicing with those who rejoice, and mourning with those who mourn. Encouraging, feeding, clothing, protecting...I should worship with everything I do...reflecting the glory of God by maintaining His beautiful Creation--which is a reflection of His attention to detail and care for us. Mostly, I am being challenged to act upon my convictions. I still don't know how all of this will work itself out in "real life," but I know that I am less laid back than ever and more inclined to stretch myself to love, to accept, and to serve. That is what worshipping God with my life means. It means reflecting Him and giving Him glory every moment of every day.
Whew. My brain is tired. And a little emptier. But my soul is singing. Can you hear it?
for more on the sermon: "The Story of God: Being Human" (From 1/29/07) that inspired some of this... www.renovatuscommunity.com
ENTER, Then go to MEDIA and LISTEN
You can get a free podcast on itunes or listen to it in the archive (the podcast is up...the archive should have it in a few days). It's an hour long...our pastor is long-winded like I am!!! :) One of the best sermons I've ever heard...he even espoused the idea that we were born to live naked...but you'll have to listen to find out all about that. hee hee hee.

We took a few days in Asheville, NC, to celebrate our TWO year anniversary. I was standing on a small wall to make up for the 17 inch or so difference! I love to take self-portraits, and all the better if I can include my sweet boy. :)
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Bring back the blog!

I think I'm bringing back the blog.
I've missed it. I might have things to say...things to report...excitement of the highest order...or I might not. You'll just have to swing by to find out! :)